Oct 25, 2020 - World

France recalls ambassador to Turkey over Erdoğan's comments on Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) are pictured =at the Chancellery on January 19, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, in January. Photo: Emmanuele Contini/Getty Images

France is recalling its ambassador to Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron "needs mental treatment," officials told AFP Saturday.

Why it matters: The action by France is highly unusual. It comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two NATO allies. Erdoğan's comments were in response to Macron's reaction to the killing of a teacher near Paris, who'd shown students cartoons of Islam's Prophet Mohammed during a classroom discussion.

  • Macron described the beheading earlier this month as an "Islamist terrorist attack" and defended the teaching of freedom of expression in the secular country.

What they're saying: "What can one say about a head of state who treats millions of members from different faith groups this way: first of all, have mental checks," Erdoğan said in a televised address in Kayseri, in the Central Anatolia Region of the overwhelmingly Muslim but secular country, per the Guardian.

  • "What’s the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims? Macron needs mental treatment."

The other side: "President Erdoğan's comments are unacceptable," a French official said to AFP.

  • "Excess and rudeness are not a method. We demand that Erdoğan change the course of his policy because it is dangerous in every respect."

Of note: The two countries have also clashed in recent months on the conflict in Syria, the deadly clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and an arms embargo on Libya.

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